Named after Ada Hayden, who was the first woman to receive a doctorate at Iowa State College (now called Iowa State University). Her doctorate was earned in 1918, making her the fourth student, male or female, to obtain a Ph.D. at Iowa State College. In 1920 she was appointed Assistant Professor of Botany at Iowa State. Teaching probably occupied a great deal of her time until 1934, when her appointment was changed to a research position in the Agriculture Experiment Station.
She devoted herself to prairie preservation and research. She wrote 29 papers, most dealing with Iowa flora. She campaigned for a system of prairie preserves.
You have to get up close and personal to spot the hundreds of different wildflowers, as they change with each passing season. Naturally, I brought my binoculars so I didn't miss any. On this particular day I was specifically looking for gray-headed coneflowers. Also sunflowers were on my list as I heard there were hundreds maybe thousands of varieties. Now where are they?
Walking further down the path, I saw a bunch of blazing stars... and its wasn't even dark yet!
Although full professor status was denied her, and she received little public recognition for her accomplishments, she continued to work for what she believed in until her death in 1950. During her time at Iowa State, she collected over 30,000 plant specimens for the herbarium and also sent many duplicates to other institutions.
Hayden Prairie is a remarkable place and its naming is a fitting tribute to a remarkable woman. Way to go Iowa!